State Budget Writers Seek Clarity On Child Protection Reforms

Jan 23, 2017

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Top New Hampshire house budget writers had blunt questions for the expert hired to review policy at the state's child protection agency.

House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk was direct when he got the chance to question the consultant advising the state on its Division of Children, Youth and Families, or DCYF.

"We are here because two children died. So my question is, if we implement this program will you be able to suggest to us that no children die?"

Jerry Milner of The Center for the Support of Families, the Maryland firm that reviewed 232 cases at DCYF, told Kurk absolute promises aren't feasible.

"I cannot guarantee you, I cannot say that you can expect never to have another child death.'  

But Milner did add that if the state can better identify risk and act quickly in cases of likely abuse fewer children will be harmed.

And that's a goal Governor Sununu and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle share. The Center for the Support of Families report found DCYF needed more staff and better training, but how much lawmakers choose to spend on that will be a key question as they craft the state's next two-year budget.